A living history weekend attracted thousands of people, eager to discover what it would have been like to live in Malmesbury during the 17th century’s English Civil War.

More than 200 re-enactors from the Civil War Society dressed in period costume for the two-day event last Saturday and Sunday, inspired by a skirmish that happened on June 14, 1644.

Following the town fight, Roundhead Colonel Nicholas Devereux took up residence in Abbey House and garrisoned his Regiment of Foote in Malmesbury.

The society brought the town to life for families, holding a children’s drill session in the cloister gardens, and a talk demonstrating how to operate the 17th-century cannon.

A re-enactment of the skirmish, at St Aldhelm’s Mead, was a highlight for both days.

Malmesbury changed hands seven times during the English Civil War and was a key location for King Charles I, who was based at Oxford but also had a port at Bristol.

Mayor Sue Poole, who was part of the organising committee for the event, said: “We were half-way on the main road between the two cities, so we were quite an important town.

“I think people learnt a lot on the day, because it wasn’t just soldiers. We had artisans, who demonstrated different aspects of life at the time.

“We had a pencil maker, we had a school teacher and an apothecary. They cooked authentic food for the troops, they set up a camp, so you saw how the troops lived at the time.

“This is why we called it Living History, because it was life at the time.

“And, of course, the buildings we used, some of them date back to the 17th century.

“The soldiers for the skirmish, they marched down to St Aldhelm’s Mead. That was quite hair-raising.

“The sound of the drum made you notice that something was going on.”

The skirmish and living history event was organised by Athelstan Museum, local area schools, the Warden and Freemen, the civic trust, town council and the chamber of commerce.

Mrs Poole said: “The regiment kept saying how blown away they were at the reaction they had from the town and how welcomed they felt.

“I would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped us and the people of the town, because they turned out so well.”